Everyone has a race medal that means something special to them – from their first race to the one that had the most meaning, looking at medals can bring back emotions and memories from years long gone. At the same time, there are medals out there that are a must for your trophy case.
runDisney’s “Pixie-Dusted” Medals
Leave it to The Mouse to take an extra step and add something no one else can to a race medal: a sprinkling of pixie dust. For this year’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend in May, each medal represents a different race – from the Never Land 5K to the Tinker Bell 10K – and completing all the races earns runners an additional special medal. In true Disney fashion, these medals will be collector’s items for years to come. While Tinker Bell herself could easily fly through a half marathon, these enchanting medals are sure to bring a smile to the face of every finisher.
Cowtown Marathon Texas Star
Everything is bigger in Texas, and ACTIVE knows that. We’re based in downtown Dallas, with amazing views of the city and beyond. And over in Ft. Worth, they take their Cowtown Marathon medals seriously. From 2009-2013, Cowtown designed 5 medals – one for each year – that when combined in 2013, formed the iconic Texas Star. It gave runners a reason to come back year after year, and an impressive mantle piece, especially when all five medals are mounted on a wooden plaque. Bigger, indeed.
Across the Bay 10K 5-Piece Puzzle
The first bridge-based run on our list, the Across the Bay 10K has runners cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in early November. Topping out at 186 feet above the water, participants have a reason to come back again and again. Starting in 2014, the medal has a similar feel to the Cowtown Marathon’s Texas Star: the 5-piece puzzle won’t be complete until 2018, so runners have a constant prize to work toward.
Ditka Dash Mustache-and-Aviator Medal
Chicagoans love former Bears coach Mike Ditka. Not only because he played for the Windy City team, but because he coached the 1985 Bears to their only championship win (we can’t say the term you’re thinking, but yes, it’s THAT game). So it’s no surprise the Ditka Dash 5K sells out year after year. Runners clad in navy blue, orange and white shirts, along with aviator sunglasses and sweet push-broom mustaches race along Lake Shore Drive and receive a medal plastered with the face of the famous coach of Da Bears.
Oak Barrel Half Marathon Wooden Medal
Sponsored by Jack Daniels, the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, Tennessee – home of the J.D. distillery, naturally – brings its own flavor to the medal game. While the post-race is devoid of any sponsor product in liquid form (Lynchburg is ironically a dry county), participants receive a wedge of a wooden whiskey barrel, with burned edges, a leather strap and branded logo. Leave it to Jack Daniels to do things a little differently.
Conquer the Bridge
The second bridge on our list, the 5.3-mile Conquer the Bridge in San Pedro, California, incorporates a local landmark into the race. Held Labor Day weekend, racers traverse a 1,500-hundred foot trek over the bright green Vincent Thomas Bridge, the 4th longest suspension bridge in California. And after the race is over, the bridge run remains in runners’ heads, as the medal proudly features the bridge in the same bright green color.
Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon’s Wine Stopper Medal
Located in northern California – home to a lot of wine – the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon is held on the closest weekend to Halloween every year. Not only do you see runners decked out in outlandish costumes, you walk away with some pretty creative medals. Example: the 2012 medal was an actual wine stopper. No need to keep this one in the trophy case when it works just as well on the wine rack.
IRONKIDS Sizeable Medals
It’s never too early to start training to be a future IRONMAN, and IRONKIDS helps set the pace. Races are half-mile and mile distances, and are designed for kids from ages 3 to 15. With a focus on fitness, fun and safety, the medals are the crowing achievement at the end of the race. An interesting twist: an IRONKIDS medal is the one award impossible for current IRONMAN finishers to win.
Little Rock Marathon’s Huge Medal
Go big or go home – the Little Rock Marathon takes that saying seriously, awarding every finisher with the “Huge Medal.” Weighing in at 3 pounds, 1 ounce, this will stand out among all your medals, based off size alone. And don’t even try to run with this around your neck – you want to make it to the next race, right?
Marathon of the Treasure Coast Florida State Medal
Embracing the Atlantic coast, the Marathon of the Treasure Coast winds over causeways, up and down islands and around the St. Lucie River in southern Florida. The race is a highlight for the community, and focuses on surrounding cities and towns, and benefits local causes. Continuing with the local aspect of the race, the medal is in the shape of Florida and runners proudly proclaim the Sunshine State as their own.
Ole Bohn’s Viking Winter Dash Sword Medal
Midwest winters are bleak, and in the dead of February, it takes a lot of motivation to get outside and run. Thankfully, Ole Bohn’s Viking Winter Dash in Muncie, Indiana, has just the reason to wake you from early hibernation: a racing medal that’s a sword. When you walk away from this snow-covered race with a 6-inch sword around your neck, you’re basically a character from Game of Thrones.